Rome, May 25 (IANS/AKI) The chief imam of Cairo’s prestigious Al-Azhar mosque, Ahmad al-Tayyeb, has urged nations to join forces to end the scourge of terrorism and “rivers of blood”.
“This is my appeal to the world and to the free men of the world: to come to an agreement immediately and to intervene to put an end to these rivers of blood,” Tayyeb said.
He made the remarks in an interview with Vatican Radio and Vatican newspaper l’Osservatore Romano after his historic meeting at the Vatican on Monday with Pope Francis, who he called a “man of peace”.
The prestigious Al-Azhar mosque and university is working to fight extremist ideology and help young people guard against radicalisation by those who are advocating violence and sowing discord between faiths, Tayyeb said.
“Yes, terrorism exists, but Islam has nothing to do with this terrorism, and this applies to Ulama (Muslim clerics) and to Christians and Muslims in the East,” he said.
“And those who kill Muslims, and who also kill Christians, have misunderstood the texts of Islam either intentionally or by negligence.”
“In every religion there exists a deviant faction that raises the flag of religion to kill in its name,” Tayyeb stated.
Considered to be one of Egypt’s most moderate Sunni clerics, Tayyeb was recently ranked among the world’s top ten most influential Muslims.
On Monday he became the first chief imam of the Al-Azhar to visit the Vatican, when he held a 30-minute meeting with Pope Francis and also met the head of the Vatican’s interfaith dialogue body, Jean-Louis Tauran.
“Our meeting is the message,” said Francis as the two religious leaders embraced.
Francis and Tayyeb agreed at their meeting to oppose violence and terrorism and to strive to protect minority Christians in the Middle East, the Vatican said in a statement.